Argentine President Nestor Kirchner is lashing out at local journalists who criticized him for  staying out of town following last week's deadly nightclub fire in Buenos Aires.

Mr. Kirchner was on vacation in his native Santa Cruz province when the blaze happened. He returned to Buenos Aires Tuesday and met with victims' families.

On Wednesday, the president said it doesn't matter whether he was in Buenos Aires at the time of the fire, which has claimed at least 186 lives, and hospitalized 250 others.

Investigators say they have identified three people believed to have set off the blaze, which started when a flare was fired into the club's foam-covered ceiling.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.